Biomineralization patterns of intracellular carbonatogenesis in cyanobacteria: Molecular hypotheses

Jinhua Li, Isabel Margaret Oliver, Nithavong Cam, Thomas Boudier, Marine Blondeau, Eric Leroy, Julie Cosmidis, Feriel Skouri-Panet, Jean Michel Guigner, Céline Férard, Melanie Poinsot, David Moreira, Purificacion Lopez-Garcia, Corinne Cassier-Chauvat, Franck Chauvat, Karim Benzerara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The recent discovery of intracellular carbonatogenesis in several cyanobacteria species has challenged the traditional view that this process was extracellular and not controlled. However, a detailed analysis of the size distribution, chemical composition and 3-D-arrangement of carbonates in these cyanobacteria is lacking. Here, we characterized these features in Candidatus Gloeomargarita lithophora C7 and Candidatus Synechococcus calcipolaris G9 by conventional transmission electron microscopy, tomography, ultramicrotomy, and scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM). Both Ca. G. lithophora C7 and Ca. S. calcipolaris G9 formed numerous polyphosphate granules adjacent or engulfing Ca-carbonate inclusions when grown in phosphate-rich solutions. Ca-carbonates were scattered within Ca. G. lithophora C7 cells under these conditions, but sometimes arranged in one or several chains. In contrast, Ca-carbonates formed at cell septa in Ca. S. calcipolaris G9 and were segregated equally between daughter cells after cell division, arranging as distorted disks at cell poles. The size distribution of carbonates evolved from a positively to a negatively skewed distribution as particles grew. Conventional ultramicrotomy did not preserve Ca-carbonates explaining partly why intracellular calcification has been overlooked in the past. All these new observations allow discussing with unprecedented insight some nucleation and growth processes occurring in intracellularly calcifying cyanobacteria with a particular emphasis on the possible involvement of intracellular compartments and cytoskeleton.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 3 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology


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